As many of you know by now, Charlottesville has always been super special to me! I went to school at UVA, where I studied studio art and got a masters in education. My sophomore year I spent a semester in college at FIT and took jewelry design classes. Lots of friends were doing semesters abroad while we were in college, and I really wanted to spend a semester in NY so this was my “semester abroad.” I worked with a school counselor, and we figured out a way to choose fashion classes where the credits would transfer to UVA.
And it also happens to be where I met my husband, Bryan! 16 years ago I was covering a friend's shift at Mellow Mushroom, he came in after a football game and I happened to be his waitress. He asked me on a date and the rest is history! We love Charlottesville so much that we got married at Veritas Vineyard even though neither of us are from Charlottesville.
After I graduated, I worked with two different jewelers in Charlottesville as their assistants. Jason McLeod (he actually helped me design Bryan's wedding ring!) and Lee Marraccini. They taught me so much about business, design and the tricks of the trade. Once I learned the technique I was able to develop my own aesthetic and began to design my own jewelry!
I first started selling my jewelry at the Charlottesville City Farmers Market. I would create all week and then wake up at 5:45am to sell 25 pairs of handmade earrings from the back of my car. I loved it from the first moment I was there. After we moved to Charlotte, Bryan and I would still drive 4.5 hours to Charlottesville on Friday nights, just to be there in the morning. Everyone thought I was crazy, but this place filled my soul and gave me a reason to continue making jewelry. I will always be forever grateful for the friends I met those early mornings and for all the people who have supported me, hosted me in their homes, schools and restaurants, and continue to support me to this day!
We continue to go back to Charlottesville a couple times a year. I love sharing this place with our daughters on the weekends and now I'm sharing some of my favorites with you! If you live in Charlotte, it's about a 4 and a half hour drive. Lynchburg, VA or Greensboro, NC are some great places to stop on your way too.
Favorite places to stay...
Quirk Hotel - This is a super artsy boutique hotel with an awesome rooftop bar. My dear friend, Kiki slaughter (she and I have our Coco Hill collection together) created all the headboards with her paintings - SO cool!
Clifton Hotel - It's a little bit further outside of the downtown area, but beautiful and they have lots of events and cool dinner parties.
Keswick Hall - They just went through a renovation and it's fabulous!
Boar's Head Inn - It's located on over 600 acres and has a ton of beautiful walking trails to explore.
Some of the wineries are also starting to rent out the cutest farmhouses. The Farmhouse at the Veritas Vineyard (where we got married) is the coolest little hidden gem!
There is also Stay Charlottesville - a collection of locally chosen and vetted airbnbs - they have a great selection!
Favorite places to eat...
On your way in or out of town, you have to stop by Dr. Ho's Humble Pie - it's right outside of Charlottesville and a great place for the kids!
Bodo's Bagels - Known as "The Institution” aka you HAVE to go if you're in Charlottesville - It's great to grab a bagel and go sit on The Lawn on campus.
Shenandoah Joe Coffee Roasters - Be sure to ask if Dave is working and he will give you a tour!
MarieBette Café - They have great coffee and amazing pastries - everything is home made.
Grit Coffee - is close to campus.
The Workshop - This cafe is new and I haven't been yet, but I've heard great things!
The Dairy Market - This is a really cool food hall with a ton of awesome options.
Feast - Great grab and go option with sandwiches, cheese & charcuterie and gourmet grocery items - perfect to stock up and take it to a vineyard or a picnic on the lawn!
Zocalo - They have great outdoor seating in the middle of the downtown mall - I spent 4 years serving tables here and I still go back!
Tavola - This is one of my favorite restaurants in Charlottesville - great Italian food.
The Local - Great casual American place.
Oakhart Social - Really yummy small plates which is my favorite - you get to try a little bit of everything!
Things to do and places to shop...
A UVA football game of course!
Be Just - I went in here for the first time this last trip - I loved all of their home decor!
For my history buffs - Monticello was Thomas Jefferson's Estate.
In the fall, Carter Mountain Orchard is a great place to go apple picking, pumpkin picking, and all things fall - be sure to check their festival schedule, they are a lot of fun for the kids!
Chiles Peach Orchard - they make the best soft serve ice cream!
Be sure to walk around the Downtown Mall - they have a ton of open air eateries, ice cream shops and musicians.
I’ve never actually done this - but so many people have told me I need to float the Rivianna River.
The Virginia Discovery Museum is great for a day with the kids!
If you love yoga you absolutely have to take one of Shannon Burns classes at Salute the Sun Yoga Studio - she's a really great friend and has the best classes!
Of course I can't head to Charlottesville without all of my jewelry packed in my Jewelry Case! The Virginia Gemstone Necklace (an ode to my original jewelry making days), Charlottesville Bracelet Bundle, Virginia Earrings, Triple Drop Azure Blue Earrings, Effortless Layer Bundle, and the Eva Tiny Gemstone Necklace all came with me on our latest trip!
Adventure awaits in Charlottesville!